Matt Damon is still recovering from December’s foot-in-mouth incident. After the Downsizing star received a wave of backlash regarding his comments on Hollywood’s sexual harassment scandals, the actor is now keeping quiet on the issue.
Damon, 47, visited the Today show to talk about the efforts of Water.org, and he was also asked to comment about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this,” Damon told Kathie Lee Gifford about his previous statements the social media campaign #MeToo that saw women and men sharing their personal stories of abuse following the Harvey Weinstein revelations. “I don’t want to further anybody’s pain with anything that I do or say. So for that I am really sorry.”
As for #TimesUp, he added, “A lot of those women are my dear friends and I love them and respect them and support what they’re doing and want to be a part of that change … but I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while.”
The actor was criticized for his remarks about #MeToo during his press tour last month. In one interview, Damon expressed that there were varying degrees of severity when it comes to sexual harassment. “There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?” he told ABC News. “Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”
In another interview, the actor also said people should also be paying attention to men who aren’t predators. “We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole s***load of guys — the preponderance of men I’ve worked with — who don’t do this kind of thing and whose lives aren’t going to be affected,” he told Business Insider. “If I have to sign a sexual-harassment thing, I don’t care, I’ll sign it. I would have signed it before. I don’t do that, and most of the people I know don’t do that.”
Damon isn’t the only leading man to face backlash when speaking about #MeToo and #TimesUp. Liam Neeson has also made some controversial remarks recently, saying the sexual harassment scandal has caused “a bit of a witch hunt.”
“There’s some people, famous people, being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something and suddenly they’re being dropped from their program,” the 67-year-old action star said on the Irish broadcaster RTE.
Neeson compared radio presenter and author Garrison Keillor, who was dropped by Minnesota Public Radio last year over an allegation of inappropriate behavior, with Weinstein, saying it “wasn’t the same.” He also added that he’s “on the fence” about sexual harassment allegations against Dustin Hoffman.
As for #TimesUp, the star of The Commuter applauded the initiative. “There’s a lot of discussion about it, and a lot of healthy and necessary discussion about it because the disparity sometimes is f***ing disgraceful,” Neeson told the Associated Press. “We’re starting, and it’s starting with these extraordinary actresses and brave ladies. … We, as men, have got to be part of it, you know? We started it, so we have to be part of the solution.”
But when asked if he would take a pay cut to equal things out, the actor shunned the idea. “No. Pay cut? No, no, no, no. That’s going too far,” he said. “No, there has to be parity. There just has to be.”
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